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Starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James

The most believable element in Pixels is that alien video-game creatures could attack our planet. The actual concept is clever , space aliens misunderstand a recording of old video-games as a declaration of war, and send digital monsters based on those games to Earth as their army. But its execution in the hands of director Chris Columbus and producer Adam Sandler is a mess. This disappointing comedy falls apart before it begins because no one would behave the way its characters do, and their ridiculous choices drive the action. Only the fi lm’s opening moments ring true. It’s 1982, and Sam Brenner and Will Cooper are a couple of pre-teen boys excited about the new arcade in their neighbourhood. They’re so good at video games that they compete in the world championships, and Brenner almost wins. A cocky, mullet-wearing kid who nicknamed himself “The Fire Blaster” takes fi rst. Flash forward to present day, and Sam and Will are still best friends. Only now, Sam (Sandler) installs home-theatre systems, and Will (Kevin James) is president of the United States. Will snaps into action when a US territory is mysteriously attacked from the sky. Forget the elite military and special services , Will calls up Sam, the one-time video game championship runner up, hoping he might spot some arcade inspired pattern in the airborne attack. Sam is a loser who feels his best days are 30 years behind him, at the arcade. He’s the kind of guy who shows up to the White House wearing shorts and hits on the pretty homeowner whose theatre system he’s installing. That homeowner turns out to be Lt. Colonel Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), a defence leader forced to work with the president and his team of childhood friends against the alien threat. The talented Jane Krakowski is terribly underused as the First Lady. An Emmynominated comedy actor, she’s given few lines here -none funny -and is left with nothing to do but gaze adoringly at the goofy president. The few bright spots in the movie come from the music, celebrity cameos and special effects. The soundtrack of Cheap Trick, Queen and Spandau Ballet match well with the ‘80s game imagery. Viewers who were adults in the ‘80s will also appreciate cameos by the likes of Tammy Faye Baker and Max Headroom. And the special effects dazzle. The alien videogame creatures pixelate everything they touch. Too bad they couldn’t get their digital hands on this script.

Rated PG 4 out of 10

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